Donna Waidtlow

The Invention of Time

In the beginning
day and night were enough . . .
birds began their mantras
and the wild cock crowed.
We rose from dreams
to forage for wild onions and sage.

When the sun reached
a certain notch on the horizon,
we followed our hearts home.
From a pouch, I drew juicy bulbs
to share with those who kept
the hearth. The sun disappeared.
Our fire flamed high. I told
a story about finding frogs . . .
you jumped into their skins
and danced, your throat
bulging with their songs.

It was night until the sun rose again.

Then there came a day when
I wanted to meet you as the sun
reached its zenith. And that was glorious.
Then I wanted half-way-to-zenith
and half-past. And my sundial
was enough for a thousand years.

Later there were clouds
and I missed you. So I invented
the hourglass. Sand slipping,
measuring the passing moments.
And I was satisfied for a while.

But we forgot to turn the glass
and there were holes in my wisdom
so I invented the clock. And since
I couldn’t account for what you did
with your time between hours,
I added minutes.

The clock ticked away,
steady as a heartbeat
counting day and night.

Then I became all business,
watching the bottom line,
time was money.
I worried if
I was getting my money’s worth
from you and you and you?
Production. Value. Loyalty.
                   So I added seconds . . .

                   And now it’s all a bloody race in “the real” world
                            them against us
                            you against me
                            so I divided
                                    a tenth
                                    a hundredth
                                    a millionth.

                                    enough . . .

Copyright 1997, Donna Waidtlow

Donna Waidtlow received the 1997 Chapbook Award from Floating Bridge Press for her collection, A Woman Named Wife. She has a B.S. in physical therapy from the University of Washington and M.F.A. in creative writing from Goddard College. Her poetry has been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Anima, Bellowing Ark, Chrysanthemum, Chaminade Literary Review, Cicada, Fireweed, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, NCASA, Nomad, Perceptions, Radiance, TAPJoE, Thirteen Poetry Magazine, Hopscotch, and others.

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